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3.5] Amendment Procedure to Indian Constitution

1. Why Constitution Needs Amendment?

The constitution defines the basic principles with which country should be governed. By nature, constitution have important characteristics of permanence and generality. A constitution, by nature, only mention the general principles and direction for the country’s governance, because constitution makers cannot anticipate all the variety of situations that will arise in future. On the other hand, it is also not practical for a written constitution to specify all the rules and laws for future generations (nor is it desirable).

Further, a constitution that does not provide for the formal method of amendment, leaves room for violent and unconstitutional changes. In the words of C.J. Friedrich, a German political scholar, “a well-drawn constitution will provide for its own amendment in such a way as to forestall, as far as humanly possible, revolutionary upheavals.”

Thus, the framers of Indian constitution kept the provision for amendment of Indian constitution. There are different procedures to amend different parts of constitution. This makes Indian amendment procedure unique, and also strikes a right balance between rigid and flexible constitution, making it an adapting, evolving, living document.

2. Amendment Procedure to Indian Constitution

An amendment to the constitution is a formal change modifying the text of the Constitution. Strictly speaking, any small change, even an addition or removal of a symbol like comma is considered as an amendment to constitution.

Article 368 of Indian constitution provides for the procedure of amendment. Article 368 provides for amendment in two different ways. 

1) Amendment by Special Majority

An amendment to the constitution can be done only by a parliament, by a majority of the total membership of each house of parliament, and also a two thirds majority of the members present and voting.

2) Special Majority and State Ratification

A category of constitutional provisions (e.g. dealing with election of president, lists in seventh schedule, Art 368 itself etc.) require special majority in parliament (as mentioned above), as well as ratification by at least half of the state legislatures. The recent incidence of such an amendment can be a GST Bill, which was passed by Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and then was ratified by half of the states.

Apart from Article 368, there are also separate cases where constitution can be amended. These amendments can be done by mere simple majority in both the houses of parliament.

3) Amendment by Simple Majority

This means that parliament will stand amended if a bill to that effect is passed in both the houses by a simple majority i.e. majority of members present and voting in parliament. Various articles that can be amended in this fashion include admission of new state under article 2, provisions relating with citizenship of India (article 11), provisions relating to salaries and allowance of MPs etc.

It is also to be noted that in each of the above three types, the assent of the president, prior to introduction of the amendment bill, is necessary.

Posted in PSIR NOTES

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